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Ray Stevenson's Makeup In Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant Was Inspired By Iguanas

Ray Stevenson covered many genres in his career. The actor, who died on Sunday, May 21, 2023, at the age of 58, can be spotted in the "Thor" movies, various "Star Wars" projects, and in period pieces like the TV series "Vikings." There was even a time when Stevenson entered the vampire world, playing Murlaugh in the 2009 film "Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant." The film based on popular book series follows Darren (Chris Massoglia), a teen bored with his life. That changes when he attends a freak show and crosses paths with Crepsley (John C. Reilly), who eventually turns him into a half-vampire. He also meets the evil Murlaugh, who looks like he has been decaying for a while. And it's a look that nature inspired.

In a 2015 interview with The A.V. Club's Random Roles, Stevenson said he wanted to do something different with Murlaugh's makeup. "And I was talking to the makeup guys about [how] I'd been watching this wildlife program about the Galapagos Islands ... and look at the iguanas down there and how their skin is sort of scaly but there's a pale blue and a pale yellow and pale greens, but they're sort of like a dead pale blue, a dead pale yellow, and so forth. So the makeup guys were delighted to make up a semi-decaying looking, dead-colored flesh on him," he said.

And it was a makeup decision that fit very well with the director's vision.

How Stevenson's makeup choice fit with the film's aesthetic

"Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" is filled with eye-catching graphics, and bold colors that dazzle the audience while having an aged feel that one may expect from a show that has been traveling for quite some time and echoes an attraction that may have been spotted during the early days of the circus. Director and co-writer Paul Weitz told Syfy Wire that he drew on the aesthetics of certain expressionist artists and their work that was created shortly before World War II. "I've liked German Expressionist painting for a long time. It's often very colorful and then also very grim, because it's coming out of World I. So there's a real sense of the macabre about it," he said.

While the colors stand out, so do the styles of the costumes, including Ray Stevenson's, which he also had a hand in choosing. He told The A.V. Club's Random Roles that he chose to show off some of Murlaugh's backstory in his outfit, choosing a calvary uniform that would suggest a possible high-society status that his character may have enjoyed during his life. But he made sure that the theme of decay continued from his makeup into his costume, which includes a roughness to his once glowing uniform. "But there's that sort of decayed elegance that was still there, which actually adds to the menace of the man," the actor said.